How to organise a small kitchen – ways to utilise every inch of space

Good organisation is the key to maximising space in any small kitchen layout
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  • Whether you’re starting from scratch designing a new kitchen or making the most of what you already have, there are plenty of creative ideas for how to organise a small kitchen. It’s about thinking differently with the space available to you and putting areas that you wouldn’t ordinarily utilise into use.

    Space is always at a premium in any small kitchen idea, but that doesn’t mean you have to cook in chaos. Getting everything organised and functioning properly with all your necessities close to hand and pots and pans in order will mean a smooth running kitchen – making preparing that Sunday roast easier and free from mishaps.

    How to organise a small kitchen

    By cleverly organising the items in your kitchen, and thinking about how you can best use the space, you will create a perfectly functioning area for cooking, dining and entertaining.

    ‘Smart kitchen storage solutions such as wall cabinet shelves and pull-out worktops can really make a difference in a small space and help you make better use of existing space,’ says Lizzie Beesley, Head of Design at Magnet. Read on to discover 10 simple ideas for how to organise a small kitchen.

    Get organised by incorporating some of these ideas for how to organise kitchen cabinets – using clever storage solutions, such as racks, hooks, hangers and more.

    1. Make better use of wall space with hanging rails

    white kitchen with metal wall baskets for storage

    Image credit: Future PLC

    It always seems to be, in any room for that matter, that our walls are never put to best use, particularly higher up. In a small kitchen, it makes absolute sense to utilise the full breadth of an available wall for small kitchen storage ideas. Provided they don’t impede access to a cupboard unit or an appliance, hanging a rail, or several rails, is a quick and affordable way to incorporate more storage space when organising a small kitchen.

    Use them to hang baskets where you can store everyday food essentials, such as eggs and herbs. And in the lower portion of the wall, display fruits to entice your little ones to grab a snack. Pop on some hooks and you can also use them to hang your oven mitts, tea towels and utensils.

    2. Carve out storage spots in forgotten spaces

    understairs kitchen cupboard with larder shelving

    Image credit: Future PLC

    Have a look around your kitchen and try to suss out if there are any voids or hidden areas within the walls that you could adopt for storage. A great first place to consider is underneath your stairs. Can you access it from the kitchen? Or perhaps it’s not far down the hall? Either way, with some clever carpentry, you could transform it into a pantry with shelves, hooks and racks.

    Yours truly here did just that, and now has a fully fledged – and neatly organised – pantry under the stairs, complete with lighting and a new full-height door. A space that was once redundant has been turned into usable space, invaluable in a small kitchen layout.

    3. Keep everyday items on display for quick access

    kitchen pantry shelving with glass bottles and jars

    Image credit: Dunelm

    Transfer all your dry goods; nuts, cereals, flours, sugars, pulses, pastas and so on, into glass airtight jars and position on shelves, with the more frequently used items closer to hand. It’s a good idea to label and date the jars so you know the lifespan of the goods, too.

    Whether inside a pantry for you to see, or placed on open shelves visible to all, they’ll make an eye-catching display. Not only does it look great, it will also save you space by not having to accommodate mismatched sized boxes and bags.

    4. Adopt a moveable trolley for overflow

    Kitchen trolley on wheels

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Fiona Walker Arnott

    This idea for how to organise a small kitchen is a great one with a dual purpose. Neatly sized and moveable, a trolley on wheels immediately becomes a handy place to store everyday items that you’ll grab frequently, such as cutlery, a tea towel and glassware. You can also use it to wheel things into the next room, perhaps a dining space or a living room. Or, better yet, it could be used as an occasional drinks trolley when you’re entertaining friends.

    Yours truly here, keeps one of these in the bottom of the pantry, which can be wheeled out and positioned next to the oven when cooking. It’s packed full of spices on the top, store-cupboard veg in the middle and tin cans on the bottom. Super handy!

    5. Think about adding a slimline run of units

    wooden galley kitchen

    Image credit: GoodHome at B&Q

    Whether you’re embarking on a total refurb or just want to update an area of your kitchen, you could think about installing a slimline worktop with cupboards. When storage is at a premium, you still want to be able to maximise your cabinetry space, but you don’t want the room to feel oppressive. How you can counter this is by adding a slimline worktop with base and wall cupboards, rather than the standard depth. It will give you plenty of storage space, whilst making the room itself feel wider.

    If you plan ahead, you could also include tuckaway bar stools, saving you from having to take up valuable space with a table and chairs.

    6. Put the corners to work with nifty racks

    kitchen counter with plate rack storage

    Image credit: Lakeland

    Smaller items can end up being the most difficult to store and keep orderly. How to organise a small kitchen becomes a challenging task when there are lots of spices, mini bowls and pots to house. The humble, inexpensive rack is your friend and you should try to pop them just about anywhere there is ‘dead’ space. The internal side of cabinet doors, the underside of cupboard shelves and the corners of worktop spaces are all crying out for racks and baskets. Wooden, plastic, or metal, these handy helpers are a quick way to get organised.

    In particular, slot racks are really useful for tidying up awkward items such as saucepan lids and chopping boards that often end up piled on top of each other, only to cascade out onto the floor upon opening the cupboard door. One of these racks will keep everything lined up neatly, a bit like a toast rack, and stop things from rattling around. Repeat after me: “racks are my friends.”

    7. Welcome multifunctional furniture

    black kitchen with white painted open kitchen dresser storage

    Image credit: Future PLC/ James French

    When you’re thinking about ideas for how to organise a small kitchen, don’t forget to consider furniture you may have elsewhere in your house that you could put to use. Let’s say the corner of your kitchen is a bit tight, it actually feels a bit redundant like you can’t fit anything kitchen-specific in it. It’s too small for a table and chairs, and it’s definitely too small for additional cabinetry. But think on it further, and you may realise that you could bring in the shallow bookshelf from the lounge and use it as open shelving in your kitchen.

    Put it to work housing your favourite cookbooks, everyday items – glassware, dry goods, plates and bowls – keeping them in easy-reach and also add some baskets for odds and ends. Before you pile everything on, first think about what items you use and when. You don’t want to be bending down to the bottom shelf for your daily water glass when it would be better suited on the middle shelf. Not only will you be organising your items, but you’ll be saving yourself time moving about the kitchen, too.

    8. Store non-essentials on the top of cupboards

    small cream kitchen

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Colin Poole

    Remember that gizmo for peeling bananas? Or maybe the egg chopper and pineapple spiralizer that are currently buried in a drawer under other non-essentials? It’s time to get ruthless and have a thorough clear-out. Too many items, especially those that you rarely use, will make a kitchen feel cluttered and can make you feel overwhelmed and stressed – not conducive to culinary creativity.

    So when thinking about how to organise a small kitchen, one of the earliest things you should do is sort and donate anything that you no longer use or want (but is still intact and usable) to charity. Put other items that you don’t use regularly, but want to keep, in a box and place it on top of a wall unit. These items, though there shouldn’t be that many, are useful enough not to be tossed, but don’t need to be accessible every single day. Kept high on the top of the cabinetry, they’ll be on stand-by for when you do need them.

    9. Invest in space-saving pull-out storage

    red kitchen with pull out larder unit

    Image credit: Wren

    If you have a small kitchen and are starting to think about having a makeover, then you’ll be pleased to know that there are plenty of storage solutions that you can have cleverly built into the cabinetry. From tall, larder-type units to smaller under-counter options there are plenty to choose from. You can also invest in nifty rotating and oscillating types that store items in the recesses and otherwise void areas under worktops.

    When organising these racks, think about which items you use more regularly and also the weight of them. You don’t want to be reaching overhead for a heavy food mixer, so pop that on the bottom shelf and keep glassware, crockery and other frequently used items mid-way and closest to you, for ease of access. Items used less often can be popped on the top shelf.

    10. Hang shelves just about anywhere you can fit them

    White kicthen with navy blue painted wall wooden worktops and shelving

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Oliver Gordon

    Removing wall cabinetry to create a more open and airy feel to kitchens shows no sign of wavering any time soon. But whilst it is aesthetically pleasing, this style-move does pose a storage issue; you just won’t have enough space, especially in a small kitchen. Cue shelves – and plenty of them!

    Hanging shelves where the cabinets once were, will still give you the airy, spacious feel you want to achieve, but will also give you plenty of storage for all your cooking essentials. It’s a win-win situation. Whilst you’re at it, you can also have a go at styling the shelves with art, favourite culinary pieces and other trinkets. Need we remind you of the popular hashtag still doing the rounds (#shelfie – in case you’ve been living under a rock these past two years)?

    How do I organise small appliances in a small kitchen?

    Appliances, big or small, are invaluable when we need them but other times can become an annoyance. Unless you’re using them daily, which most likely you’re not, finding homes for them that strike a balance between being out of the way but accessible is not always easy.

    You don’t want to hide the electric hand mixer at the back of a cupboard only to revert to a manual whisk every time you’re preparing eggs, just because you can’t face removing every item in the cupboard to get to it. So think practically about where to store items.

    You should store them close to where you use them. If you use them regularly enough then put them on display on the counter; the kettle and toaster are obvious but also pop the blender there if you use it to make a morning smoothie every day.

    Then position other more frequently used items inside a cupboard, but close to the front so you can get to them quickly. Anything you rarely use but can’t do without – such as a waffle maker (is that just me?) – place towards the back.

    How do I store pots and pans in a small kitchen?

    kitchen corner cupboard with pull out storage shelves

    Image credit: Magnet

    Pots and pans, especially the lids, can be tricky to organise. Even if you’re fortunate enough to have a set that slots nicely inside each other, getting everything else to tessellate isn’t easy. For starters these pots are round which creates awkwardness in a cupboard before you factor in their accompanying lids. Look to special stacking racks for pots and hanging devices that you can fix to the back of doors for lids.

    You can also put pots and pans on display by hanging them from rails, positioned near to your oven. Hanging them up will keep them close to hand and out of the way, too. If you have the headroom – ideal over a kitchen island – you could install a vintage-style pot and pan rack on your ceiling and hang everything up overhead.

    According to Lizzie Beesley, Head of Design at Magnet, soft-closing pull and swing corner units are another innovative way to store pots and pans, making use of corner units that are difficult to access and often go unused. ‘Wire baskets are pulled forward to provide easy access and more effective storage, revealing ample space at the back for items that perhaps aren’t used on a daily basis,’ she explains.

    ‘The same concept can be applied to Magnet’s Twin Corner unit which uses a clever mechanism to smoothly reveal additional shelving. This can be effortlessly accessed when needed and has plenty of storage space for bulkier items that may look unsightly elsewhere in the kitchen.’

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